Alabama football returns home for prime-time matchup against Southern Miss

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

Alabama football will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first night game of the season. The Crimson Tide will host the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. 

Some followers of Alabama football critique the level of intensity shown throughout games. Against the No. 11 Florida Gators, the Crimson Tide got off to a fast start in the first quarter. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young threw for three touchdowns on three straight possessions. The defense kept the potentially dangerous Florida offense off the field. 

After the first quarter of the game, the Crimson Tide’s intensity dropped. Although Alabama held the Gators to nine points in the first half, the momentum switched in Florida’s favor. 

Florida’s secondary began pressing Alabama’s wide receivers, and the offensive line struggled to keep Young off the ground. Everything that had worked for Alabama in the first quarter stopped. 

Against the Mercer Bears, the Crimson Tide defense gave up two touchdowns late in the game. Against the Miami Hurricanes, penalties and mental errors occurred late in the game. Those errors extended drives for the Hurricanes. 

Despite these errors popping up again in Gainesville, the team secured a win. After the game, head coach Nick Saban commended the team’s effort. 

“I talked about [the] collective character of our team, which is all about discipline,” Saban said. “It’s all about resiliency. It’s all about mental and physical toughness to hang in there and persevere in difficult times, and I thought our players did a pretty good job of that.”

The Golden Eagles have not had much success against the Crimson Tide. The two teams have faced each other 44 times since 1947. The Crimson Tide has 37 wins over Southern Mississippi. 

Southern Mississippi has a 1-2 record this season. Its sole win was a 37-0 blowout against Grambling State University. Its two losses have come against other Alabama colleges: the University of South Alabama and Troy University. 

In those games, the Golden Eagles were outscored 52-16. In comparison, Alabama has outscored its opponents 123-56.

Southern Mississippi’s offense struggled in its first three games. The team’s starting quarterback Trey Lowe had 220 total passing yards and two interceptions through a game and a half. Freshman Ty Keyes had 157 total passing yards and two interceptions. Keyes was sacked for a total loss of 45 yards. 

The focal point of this game will be stopping the run. Alabama struggled to do that in the last 45 minutes against Florida. Southern Mississippi’s offense is built on QB-designed runs and getting the ball to the team’s second-year running back, Frank Gore Jr. Gore has rushed for 274 yards this season. The bulk of that came against Grambling State whenhe rushed for 162 yards.

After the game against Florida, Saban said he hoped the win could be a learning experience. This game will be a test of what the Crimson Tide has learned. 

Southern Mississippi runs a spread, read-option offense, similar to what the Tide saw in Gainesville last Saturday. Like Florida, the Golden Eagles will try to force Alabama to cover the entire field from sideline to sideline. 

“To clean up penalties, I’d say just be more disciplined,” tight end Cameron Latu said on Tuesday. 

After Southern Mississippi, Alabama will host the No. 13 Ole Miss Rebels. There will be little room for error when they come to town. Ole Miss amassed 707 total yards of offense against Tulane. Quarterback Matt Corral ran for four touchdowns and threw for another three. 

Alabama vs. Southern Mississippi will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.